A late replacement and massive underdog, Andy Ruiz Jr. just shook up the world.
Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) spoiled the long-awaited U.S. debut of unified heavyweight champion and British star Anthony Joshua to score four knockdowns and record a spectacular upset via seventh-round TKO at Madison Square Garden.
Not only did Ruiz get up off the canvas early in Round 3 in order to do what oddsmakers felt was nearly impossible, he showed tremendous poise, power and fearlessness in systematically dismantling Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) to flip the heavyweight division upside down.
Ruiz, 29, a native of southern California, became the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title as he captured Joshua’s IBF, WBA and WBO titles with excessive force and heart. The upset was arguably the biggest within the division since Hasim Rahman stopped Lennox Lewis in 2001 and brought back memories of James “Buster” Douglas’ 1990 win over Mike Tyson.
“I just want to thank God for giving me this victory. Without him this wouldn’t have been possible,” Ruiz said. “This is what I have been dreaming about. This is what I have been working hard for, and I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true.”
The 29-year-old Joshua, the sport’s biggest star globally, never quite recovered from a pair of shocking knockdowns in Round 3 that took place shortly after he dropped Ruiz for the first time in the American’s career.
Ruiz never backed down from there despite letting Joshua off the hook in Round 4 when it was clear both fighters were heavily fatigued. Two knockdowns later in Round 7 and referee Michael Griffin jumped in at 1:27 to wave the fight off as Joshua was weary on his feet.
With the sold-out crowd, which was largely in favor of Joshua, stunned and silent following the stoppage, Ruiz jumped around the ring in wild celebration.
“Big respect to Andy, big big respect,” Joshua said. “[He’s a] good fighter. Thank you America. Thank you everyone for coming out this evening. Sorry I let my friends down, sorry I let my supporters down.”
Ruiz, who signed with Premier Boxing Champions shortly before his April stoppage over Alexander Dimitrenko, took the fight with Joshua on just four weeks’ notice after Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller failed a trio of drug tests. Now Ruiz becomes the power player in a renaissance division that also includes WBC champion Deontay Wilder and fellow unbeaten lineal champion Tyson Fury.
The third round should easily go down as the best of 2019 after Joshua landed a beautiful two-punch combination to floor Ruiz. But Joshua got caught shortly with a left hook and right hand to the top of the head to drop him. Ruiz followed up with an unanswered, 12-punch flurry in the corner that fell Joshua a second time as the champion was lucky to survive the round.
“That was my first time getting dropped on the floor,” Ruiz said. “But you know what, it just made me stronger and made me want it even more. I just had to knock him down back.
“I didn’t want to throw everything that I got. I wanted to hunt him down even more, work the body, work the head and just listen to the game plan. We just pulled it off, man.”
The fight became tentative although Ruiz began to do a much better job getting inside Joshua’s eight-inch reach advantage as it became clear AJ wasn’t fully recovered from the earlier knockdowns. Ruiz hurt Joshua again in Round 7 and began to batter him with short power shots to produce a pair of knockdowns. Griffin gave Joshua every chance to continue but after AJ turned his back and walked toward the corner, Griffin waved it off.
“There’s no excuses. It’s my own fault. I got caught with a big shot,” Joshua said. “Congratulations to him. I would have preferred it to be Deontay Wilder, do you know what I mean? But it wasn’t. It was Andy Ruiz, and he deserves it, and the fame and fortune he’s about to receive.
“I don’t want anyone to kind of drown in their sorrows. This is boxing. It’s all the same. It just wasn’t my night. It was Andy Ruiz’s night. You know what? It’s good for the TV. It’s good for DAZN. It gets people watching.”
“Of course, man,” Ruiz said. “Right now I just want to celebrate. I just made history, baby, for Mexico! It means everything, man. This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was 6 years old.”
“We’ll make the rematch in the U.K., November or December,” Joshua added.
Ruiz outlanded Joshua, 56 to 47, according to CompuBox.
LMC fines Kano Pillars N8m, hands Rabiu Ali 12 match ban
The League Management Company on Wednesday announced a number of sanctions against the Kano Pillars Football Club over Monday’s incident involving their supporters and players.
Salihu Abubakar, LMC’s Chief Operating Officer said in a statement that the sanctions were as a result of crowd disturbances and harassment of match officials.
The misdemeanour was committed by Kano Pillars’ fans and players during and after one of Match Day 4 fixtures at the Nigeria Professional Football League Championship Playoffs in Lagos.
“Kano Pillars have been fined the sum of N8 million, while their captain, Rabiu Ali, has been banned from all NPFL activities and matches for a period of 12 matches,” Abubakar said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that supporters and fans believed to belong to the Kano side had invaded the pitch, damaged perimeter fences and advertising panels.
They had also hauled objects at the VIP stands at the end of the fixture between Kano Pillars and Rangers International which ended 1-1.
LMC, in a summary jurisdiction notice, charged Kano Pillars with four breaches of the Framework and Rules of the NPFL including breaches of Rule B13.18, C9, C1.1.
Ali was charged with accosting the match referee and, in so doing, he had incited others to commit acts of violence and misconduct in breach of Rule C1.3
The notice to Ali read, “Consequently, and taking into consideration your role as the captain of the team, by which your conduct is deemed to be an aggravated breach with a view to imposing more severe sanctions pursuant to Rule C19, the LMC intends to exercise its summary jurisdiction.
“By this, LMC will impose on you the following sanction: a ban from all NPFL matches and activities for a period of 12 matches, commencing immediately”.
In the charge against Kano Pillars, the breaches covered offences such as the hauling of objects towards the field of play by some of their supporters in violation of Rule B13.18.
Kano Pillars were also charged for failing to control and ensure proper conduct of their players and officials who accosted the match referee in protest.
This constituted a breach of Rule C9.
The third charge read, “you are in breach of Rule B13.18 of the Framework and Rules of the NPFL.
“This is because on Monday, immediately after your NPFL Championship Playoff Match against Rangers International, some of your supporters encroached onto the field of play, pursuing match officials”.
The fourth count was hinged on the violent conduct of the supporters in a manner capable of bringing the league to disrepute.
This also includes injury to spectators and damage to facilities and equipment in violation of Rule C1.1.
It is an act which is punishable by virtue of B15.17 and B13.23 of the Framework and Rules of the NPFL.
For the first three breaches, the LMC fined the club N1 million for each count and N5 million for the breach of Rule C1.1.
Furthermore, the club have been ordered to play their next three home matches behind closed doors.
They also stand to forfeit three points in the new season, 2019/2020, should they be found in further breach of the charges during the duration of the new season.
The player and club are required by the rules to accept or appeal the charges and sanction in writing within 48 hours.
Mastercard cancels advertising campaign for Neymar after rape accusation
Mastercard has canceled an advertising campaign featuring Brazilian football star Neymar, after a woman accused him of raping her in a Paris hotel, a newspaper in Sao Paulo reported on Thursday.
The newspaper, O Estado de S.Paulo, reported on its website that Mastercard said in a statement it was suspending its use of Neymar in advertising until the situation is “cleared up’’.
Neymar denies the allegation of rape and has claimed the woman was trying to extort him.
The woman appeared on Brazilian TV on Wednesday and said the athlete did rape her.
A police report seen by Reuters over the weekend showed that a woman had accused the 27-year-old Neymar of raping her at a Paris hotel last month.
Sao Paulo police are investigating the accusation.
Following media reports on the matter, Neymar posted a long video on Instagram, in which he denied the accusations.
He claimed he was a victim of extortion, and shared WhatsApp messages he had exchanged with the alleged victim, including racy photos he had received.
That led police in Rio de Janeiro to open an investigation into whether Neymar had committed a crime by posting those intimate pictures online.
Neither a spokeswoman for Neymar nor Mastercard immediately responded to requests for comment.
Police arrests CAF president in France
Ahmad Ahmad, president of Confederation of African Football (CAF), has been arrested in Paris, capital of France.
According to Jeune Afrique, Ahmad was picked up around 8:30 am at the Berri Hotel in Paris, where he was staying ahead of the FIFA congress.
It said the arrest may be related to the alleged misappropriation and corruption involving French company, Tactical Steel.
Before he was fired in April, Amr Fahmy, former secretary-general of the confederation, had accused Ahmad of corruption.
Fahmy in a document sent to FIFA investigations committee accused the president of costing CAF an additional $830,000 because he ordered equipment through Tactical Steel.
Ahmad had defended himself and gave the assurance that all decisions were transparent.
Sabine Seillier, president of Tactical Steel, however, insisted that her company won the contract on a transparent basis.
She said her company was the only one that could guarantee delivery of the equipment sought in a tight timeframe of three weeks.
When she was questioned if Tactical Steel was been involved in kickbacks to Ahmad or his associates, Seillier replied: “Absolutely not. Tactical Steel complies with French law.”
There are reports that Seiller’s husband is a friend of an acquaintance of Ahmad.
Following his arrest, Amaju Pinnick, the vice-president, will assume his duties for a transitional period of four months before convening an elective special assembly.
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